Choosing the best Collaboration software for your business is key to getting the most out of your workforce.
With the number of remote workers having soared since 2019 and an expected 25% of all professional jobs to be remote by the end of 2022, it’s crucial for your organization’s collaboration software to meet this new challenge in keeping your teams on the same page.
But how are you supposed to know which is the best collaboration software for your business? There’s a huge number of options out there, from specialized solutions dedicated to helping your staff in one specific aspect, to large software suites that manage the entirety of your collaboration process.
This guide is designed to help your business choose the best collaboration software for your organization’s particular way of organizing your teams. We’ll be looking at all the important features the best collaboration software can include, ensuring you can make the best decision about selecting the software that best meets your needs.
Once we’ve covered all the different ways in which the best collaboration software works, we’ll take a look at a line-up of the solutions from the Serchen community’s best collaboration software reviews to bring you the best programs on the market for businesses in 2022.
What to see our full list of collaborative tools for your business? Then check out all our best collaboration software reviews!
What is Collaboration Software?
Let’s start with the basics.
Collaboration software tools are a collection of apps and features designed to help you bring together your teams by providing clear oversight of projects and tasks, enhancing the way your staff communicates, facilitating access to all the information, documents and assets needed for tasks and aiding in the quality of your business’s teamwork.
These tools can be small in scope, designed to fulfill one clear function, or much larger, acting as a hub for all of your team interactions.
Regardless of the size of the software, the goal of the best collaboration software tools is to enable your teams to come together, wherever they are in the world, to communicate and complete tasks in the most effective and efficient ways possible.
The Key Roles of the Best Collaboration Software
- Centralized Platform
The glue that binds all good collaborative software together is centralization on the cloud.
Without access to real-time updates and communications, you’ll be bottlenecking your teams’ ability to get on with tasks as soon as they’re able.
Let’s use an example:
You’re waiting on someone in your business to create a visual asset you need for your next marketing effort. Without a centralized platform showing you how far your colleague is along the way, you’ll be forced to email them, call them, or talk to them in person to find out how they’re getting on and when you can expect the asset.
Then, when the asset is ready, they’ll have to email it to you, which takes up their time, and you may have to send reminders if they don’t immediately send it. There’s a lot of waiting around on your part, and it takes time out of the process for your colleague.
With a centralized platform, you can do away with almost all of these issues. Collaborative software can provide timelines and real-time status updates giving you a much better indication of when to expect the asset, and with a centralized system, you can gain immediate access to the asset as soon as it’s uploaded, as can anyone else on your team who may need to use it (eliminating the need for further email chains).
Different software solutions will have different ways of making use of the centralized nature of cloud-based apps, but by providing all your teams and users with access to a centralized system, you can dramatically cut down on downtime and unnecessary communication chains by having the information you need available for everyone who needs it.
Plus, by using a cloud-based solution you’re not tying your staff down to specific locations, such as an office, in order to get things done and provide updates.
Cloud-based systems allow your staff to work collaboratively with each other wherever they are in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. This can mean increasing the collaborative output of your remote workers (as well as opening the doors to new talented staff who wouldn’t normally be able to commute to your business’s geographic location), as well as providing flexibility to staff who need to travel as part of their role.
Cloud-based systems give your staff the freedom to get work done anywhere, without being tied down to a dedicated workstation, while still providing real-time updates and contributions to the rest of your staff.
One of the most important parts of collaborative software is effective communication between teams and teammates.
For a lot of the best collaboration software, enhanced communication methods are built-in to an array of other features, though there are many apps that focus purely on solving communication issues (often these apps can be integrated with other, more comprehensive software).
Part of why communicating via these systems is so useful is the immediacy and customizable visibility of these communications. By having a communication system built into your collaboration software suite, your staff no longer needs to waste time juggling apps; it can all be done from one desktop, saving time for the person doing the communicating, but also immediately notifying recipients with alerts.
Email can be fantastic for certain functions, but quick back-and-forth messages with multiple participants isn’t one of them. A way around this is to schedule meetings, but if your communications could be done in a quicker and less intrusive way, then you’re leaving productivity on the table by ignoring these options.
For a lot of teams, built-in or specialized messaging functions with advanced features can be an incredibly effective way of streamlining the passing on of information without disrupting workflows, while still maintaining maximum clarity.
But messaging apps only scratch the surface of what the best collaboration software can offer.
Often the best collaboration software will bring solutions to make your existing forms of communication more effective. Some tools, for example, enhance the effectiveness of your meetings by using an interactive whiteboard that each participant can edit in real-time, with great features like polls, timed thought shower sessions, notes and more. This adds a whole new level of interactivity for the whole team that can dramatically speed up and streamline your meetings with more productive outcomes than ever before.
Other software puts the focus on embedding useful communication features that you may already have built up a workflow around, meaning you can keep your team’s focus within your collaboration platform, rather than have to set up and manage separate communication tools. A good example of this type of streamlining is with software that included video-conferencing features on top of their other features. While this may not revolutionize your workflow, it can certainly save time, and if you’ve already built up an effective process for managing video calls, then reinventing the wheel can be unnecessary anyway.
For some businesses, keeping their staff invested in the culture of the organization and the goings on within it can be an excellent way to boost teamwork and collaboration efforts, and some collaboration apps excel at providing this sort of morale and engagement boost by presenting teams and users with social media style news feeds, where achievements, ongoing projects and company announcements can be shared interactively within the organization community.
And for other businesses that have teams that rely on a knowledge base of solutions and methodologies (such as software engineers), the best collaboration software can allow users to set up staff portals and wikis that can become repositories of the ongoing knowledge and methodologies team members have discovered, meaning the siloing of this knowledge can be eliminated and all users who need to make use of the information can easily find it.
There are so many ways in which the best collaboration software can either incorporate or expand upon and enhance new and existing communication methods, so that no matter the workflow that works best for your business and teams, there will be an effective solution to streamline the process and increase productivity.
- Planning and Workflow
A lot of the best collaborative software overlaps with project management software — the distinction between the two isn’t set in stone and is more of a categorization based on whether the overall aim of the software is to encourage and enhance collaboration or provide clear oversight of a business’s ongoing projects and their breakdowns.
That said, planning and managing workflows between teams and users falls into both categories, and so a lot of the best collaborative software includes aspects designed to aid in the streamlining of ongoing tasks, the access to how tasks are progressing for your teams, and for the creation of solutions for upcoming tasks.
We’ve already mentioned whiteboard software, which can certainly help in this area, but now let’s look at some of the most common and powerful tools the best collaborative software can offer in terms of helping your business plan and execute workflows.
Gantt Charts — Gantt charts are used by businesses to illustrate the scheduling of their projects. Each different task or process has its own row, set against the horizontal axis of time, allowing individuals to see expected timelines and the relationship (known as dependencies) between different tasks. If one task can’t begin until another is finished, this can be represented on a Gantt chart, and likewise if two tasks of differing timescales need to finish at the same time.
Using Gantt charts within your collaborative software means providing clear oversight and expectations to your teams, as well as keeping them in the loop about the real-time fluctuations in scheduling that are bound to happen on any project.
Kanban Boards — Kanban boards are made up of a table of columns that show how far along the process to completion a task is, which is then populated with cards that outline a specific task and the key information relating to it. As each task progresses towards completion, it moves through the Kanban board to illustrate what stage it is in.
Used this way, Kanban boards are a useful visual tool for agile teams to maximize the flow of tasks to completion. A key feature of Kanban boards is a hard limit on the number of tasks that can be in any one stage of the board, forcing teams to focus their efforts and limit work-in-progress. This can be especially helpful for teams with changeable and varied tasks to establish a clear set of goals for their day.
Scrum Boards — similar to Kanban Boards, Scrum Boards are a tool used by agile workforces to split up projects into manageable chunks. Scrum Boards are, at their most basic, split into three columns: To Do, Sprints, and Completed Tasks. Sprints are set periods of time in which tasks are to be completed, and therefore can focus your teams completely on each individual task, with the knowledge that each task is complete at the end of the Sprint, and a new task can be taken on.
- Asset Management
We touched on this earlier, but it can be incredibly important to your teams if they work in an environment of creating and sharing files and information between staff, so it deserves its own section.
Some of the best collaboration software tools provide your business with a centralized database through which information and files can be readily accessed by those who need it, while restricting sensitive data to ensure security.
Often these software tools will also include the capacity to allow multiple users to edit documents simultaneously, which can save hours of back and forth for your teams.
Plus, for businesses that need repositories of data, having a cloud-based database that can be accessed from anywhere and updated in real-time from anywhere is an enormous help to staff who want up-to-date information wherever they are in the world.
One of the most impactful ways modern technology has allowed businesses to improve their productivity is through the creation of automation.
Automation allows users to set up tasks that will automatically be completed when a trigger is met. Obviously, software isn’t able to do your staff’s job for them, but it can take over a large portion of the menial, repetitive tasks prone to human error, such as data entry, and the recording and storing of information.
As well as saving your teams time, it also allows them to focus on the parts of their workload that they’re best at, so they can spend more of their time making a positive impact on proceedings.
Automation comes in all shapes and sizes, and is, by its nature, centered around the functionality of the software you’re using. You may be able to automate your Whiteboard software to collate the notes you made during a meeting into an easy-to-read document, or you might be able to compile the data surrounding your latest project into auto-generated reports to show how you could improve the process.
But automation doesn’t have to just exist within one specific program; one of the most powerful ways to automate your processes and workflows is with…
In the modern world of business, your software doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Each organization will have a stack of software they use across teams and departments, and a fantastic way to save time, improve efficiency and reduce the chance of human error is to integrate your software tools with one another.
In terms of the best collaboration software tools, there are often opportunities to bring your existing software solutions together or even integrate new tools that meet a specific need of your business.
A good example of this is the integration of stand-alone communication apps, much as messaging apps or video conferencing software, into larger tools with a focus on coordinating your team with a central hub where your single source of truth is hosted. By integrating the communication app within the larger app, users are able to use the full functionality of the communication app within the desktop of the larger app, streamlining their workflow and eliminating distractions.
The best collaboration software is designed to work with the most common cloud-based software businesses use, like the G Suite, Office 365, and Zapier, meaning there is always an opportunity to automate the information input and output of your collaborative software based on your business’s workflow.
Successfully Implementing the Best Collaboration Software
If you’re thinking about bringing new software onboard to aid with your business’s collaborative process, then there are a few things to bear in mind before you do.
First of all, you need to make sure your teams are in alignment with the proposed change. Adopting new software because it’s well-reviewed might seem like a great idea at first, but if it doesn’t suit the needs of your teams, or forces them into disruptive workflows, then you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot.
Instead, think about it from the point of view of your staff. The entire point of the best collaboration software is to encourage better teamwork and communication, so it’s important to know how your workforce operates already, and what they want and need to improve their collaboration efforts.
If you can find software that’s flexible enough to work with and build upon the culture of teamwork already present in your business, then you’ll find onboarding the software to be much quicker and engagement far higher, as you’ll simply be enabling your staff to work in the best, most productive and efficient way for them.
Choosing the Best Collaboration Software
Now we’ve got to grips with the ways in which collaborative software can help your business, let’s take a look at the best collaboration software as reviewed by our Serchen community of real-world users.
Check out our complete list of the best collaboration software reviews!
Miro is cloud-based whiteboard collaborative software designed to bring together your team whether they’re in office, remote, or both!
Designed for brainstorming, diagramming, meetings, mapping, R&D and strategic planning, Miro brings you a collaborative visual space with a wide range of helpful tools, such as sticky notes, images, mind maps, videos, drawing and more, to help you illustrate your ideas and plans to the rest of the team.
Plus, with hundreds of your favorite integrations baked in, Miro lets you bring your existing software stack into the collaboration process, whether you’re using it to design UX design workshops or creating product roadmaps.
And for businesses that are looking for that extra flexibility, Miro has mobile and tablet support for Andriod and iOS, alongside desktop applications and support for interactive displays, so no matter where your workers are, they can remain in touch with the rest of the team to make sure team-work is at an all-time high.
Another fantastic whiteboard solution is Stormboard, an online collaboration solution with the capacity to bring your teams together, whether they’re in office, remote, or hybrid workers.
Stormboard was designed to remove the physical limitations that dampen creativity—from a workforce spanning continents to the restrictive form of spreadsheets, Stormboard removes the barriers businesses are used to contending with to ensure that your teams are able to work and collaborate to their full potential.
With a huge range of existing templates, as well as the option to customize your workflows from scratch, Stormboard offers enormous flexibility to your organization and the way it likes to work. And with two-way data flow integrations with your favorite apps, you can save time and stay focused on the things that really matter to your team, and follow your sessions up with reporting and export options to collate all your hard work into one handy document.
Collaboration Hub software
InVision brings your business one of the best collaboration software platforms designed to provide one source of truth for your teams so they can stay up-to-date no matter where they are in the world.
InVision brings users the benefits of both whiteboard software and a centralized hub for your teams. With the capacity to create canvases for your custom work processes, you can bring your teams together for your specific workflows with a workspace you can tailor to your preferences.
But with a huge list of integrations, you can use InVision as the hub that brings together all your other collaborative software tools. Use templates from your the best collaboration software, from Jira to Zoom, within InVision, so no matter the task, your teams never need to leave InVision to work together.
By keeping all your collaboration efforts in one centralized hub, you can ensure your teams are always up-to-date with the latest information and developments, and that they’re ready to work together on the next solution at the drop of a hat.
Notion combines a bunch of great features to help businesses provide their workforce with a centralized collaboration hub with a focus on accessibility of information and workflow oversight.
Notion brings organizations a range of ways to manage their collaborative tasks in real-time, from Gantt chart and Kanban boards, to a huge amount of custom templates made by the community of Notion users.
And it also acts as a repository for your key information. With dedicated pages for wikis, documents and notes, you can keep all information relevant to your processes in one easily accessible place, and with the capacity to build databases, you can ensure that users who need information have immediate access to it.
With apps for desktop, mobile and web-based, your teams can interact with Notion from wherever they are in the world, and with integrations to your favorite collaboration apps, users can quickly see the status of your other collaborative tasks and create custom automations to speed up and streamline workflows.
Looking for a centralized collaborative space to manage all the software your teams use to work together and get things done? Then check out Desktop.com, the online desktop designed to organize all your apps, links, passwords, chats and more!
With customizable desktops for each team or project, you can bring together links to all the necessary software and documents necessary to get the job done, from one centralized place. Teams are then able to access everything they need, and upload links to new documents for the rest of the team to access and edit.
Desktop.com also includes chat, calling and video calling functions for easy messaging and communication between teams and individuals, so that users never need to check their communications outside of Desktop.com.
And with the capacity to link to your existing software stack, either through the baked-in integrations or custom integrations, and share password access for those that need it, you can bring everything your teams need together in one place to streamline workflows.
Workflow Collaboration software
Atlassian is the company that brings you industry staples Jira and Trello, as well as other great software like Confluence.
Traditionally used by software teams with an agile workflow, Jira provides teams with a single source of truth to plan projects, track tasks, plan releases, report issues and build automations into the workflow.
Jira provides users with a variety of customizable templates, including Scrum and Kanban boards, to visualize their workflows and provide oversight into each aspect of the process. And with easy integrations with a range of software, Jira is easy to place within your software stack and speed up the transfer of information.
Trello provides a solution for teams not in the software development sphere. Using an intuitive Kanban board system with extra functionality on top, Trello helps bring your teams together with clear visual representations of your workflows, projects and tasks.
With easy access to information and documents through the Trello cards, you can create a detailed list of all the important data relating to each task, as well as conversations and attachments. Plus, with dedicated automation features to speed up your workflows and easy integrations to hundreds of apps, you can customize Trello to suit the exact needs of your business.
Getscope brings a solution to teams looking to streamline their communication and planning process to do away with time-consuming and unnecessary meetings.
With the capacity to organize all your projects with the type of project oversight your teams find most useful (including Kanban boards, Gantt charts and sprints) in one source of centralized truth, your teams can quickly and effectively see where the business is in the project process and know what to do next.
Getscope gives your teams the oversight to know exactly how the rest of the team is getting on, eliminating the need for distracting and time-consuming catch-up meetings and calls, so your staff can focus on doing what they do best and getting things done.
Designed to integrate seamlessly with Google Workspace, Kanbanchi is a specialized Kanban Board and Gantt chart software tool for agile teams to organize their workflows.
Taking just five minutes to master and 30 seconds to install, you can hit the ground running with Kanbanchi and get your teams working together in no time at all.
Plus, with extra built-in features like time tracking to help monitor your team’s efforts and reporting to get in-depth analysis on your collaborative process, and notification systems to keep all your staff in the loop, Kanbanchi brings a lightweight but exceptionally useful platform for businesses that already use Google Workspace in their workflow.
Portal and Knowledge Base Collaboration Software
Clinked is a great tool for businesses looking to set up client and in-house portals to improve collaboration between businesses and the workforce.
Clinked provides users with a white label solution to their portal needs, meaning a robust and professional infrastructure with your organization’s unique branding and feel.
By setting up your own client portal, you can expand the collaboration process to your work with other businesses, allowing them to contribute and receive information updates in real-time, just like your internal staff can, helping you streamline your inter-business workflows.
But that’s not all! Your portals aren’t limited to just your clients; your internal staff can benefit from your portals too!
With tools to aid collaboration from task management and communication to centralized file sharing, you can set up a single source of truth for both your own staff and your clients and business partners, ensuring not only an internally improved workflow, but extending the collaboration to anyone involved in your business’s projects.
Talkspirit aims to help businesses supercharge their collaborative efforts by facilitating internal communications and knowledge sharing with a host of great features.
One of the interesting parts of Talkspirit is the social media style feature they bring to your staff. By defining groups, users can create communities and bring updates and information to other members of the group in the style of social media news feeds, meaning staff is kept engaged with updates and developments to projects and ongoing tasks.
But that’s not all Talkspirit offers; if you’re looking for a platform to manage your chat apps, audio and video conferences, and file sharing, all while offering mobile users an easy way to stay in touch while on the move, then Talkspirit has it all.
Plus, with a secure online drive, and a collaborative software suite, you can share and edit documents in real-time with multiple editors to make sure your team is working at maximum efficiency.
mi.team brings your business a lightweight but powerful collaborative solution that puts the focus on enhancing your communication capacities.
Bring your internal teams together with video meetups, and make your video calls even more effective by using an interactive whiteboard to share files, show key information and review documents, all within the video call software!
But if messenger apps are more your team’s speed, then mi.team’s chat feature could be a game-changer. With the capacity to send text, images, voices and video messages and share files and documents securely, you have the fundamentals of a great chat app. But with extra features, including mentions, notifications and polls, you can extend your normal chat app communication process even more!
And just for good measure, mi.team also brings businesses a collaborative taskboard to ensure teams are on the same page and have clear oversight of the projects they’re working on.
Looking for an app that brings your business a simple, centralized way to communicate via messaging, phone and video? Then take a look at RingCentral!
RingCentral is a single platform that aims to collate all your channels of internal communication to make sure your teams are always in the loop and don’t miss any messages.
Plus with integrations to the apps you already use, you can save time and streamline your information sharing.
If you’re looking for a great messaging app with extra features to help with your collaboration efforts, then Slack might just be the software you need.
Build your chats into channels to focus your discussions, and share all your important information and documents with your colleagues while integrating Slack with your existing software stack to speed up your communications and save time with repetitive data entry.
Cerberus brings users reliable and secure file transfers and hosting based in the cloud, so users can reach important documents and files from anywhere in the world, and transfer terabytes of data in seconds!
With a customizable portal and complete control of the server given to the user, all your data is in your hands and can be accessed from anywhere.
And with all the robust security protocols and protections you’d expect from high-quality solutions, Cerberus has everything your business needs to keep a centralized database of all your important information, documents and files, without any of the worries around access or safety.
Need a centralized file sharing solution, but want it to be organized in a way that’s intuitive for your teams? TeamBrain by TheBrain offers a great solution to help users get the information and files they need without being overwhelmed by all the files on your database.
By organizing your knowledge base into a visual network of your company process, users can intuitively find the areas they need and thus the files and documents relevant to their tasks. As well as aiding the fluid transmission of knowledge, by tying together your different areas of knowledge in one large mind map, users can think creatively about their process and come up with even better ideas.
Should Your Business Use Collaborative Software?
In the modern age of technology and business, we’re used to spending our time using cloud-based technology and the internet to do business and communicate.
And with the recent trend in more flexible working conditions that opens up your workforce to the best talent the world over, using the best collaboration software means you can bring your staff together into one cohesive force.
From enhancing your project management process with incredible tools like Kanban boards and Gantt charts, making your communications more effective with advanced video calls and messaging features, and centralizing your teamworking process and file sharing to create one source of truth for your business, there’s an amazing piece of software to cover your needs.
But remember, adopting new software into your stack should be something you do to enhance your existing processes. Forcing your teams into a completely new working process will only hamper your collaboration efforts. Instead, work with your teams to find out what sort of software will help enable them to work in the way they find most effective, enabling them to make the most of the new technology and keeping their engagement high with it.